We hope that you’re suitably braced for Friday – which will most likely come to be recognised by future historians as International Adele Day – when the singer’s much-anticipated new album ’25’ will fly off both physical and digital shelves in almost-certainly record fashion.
But while it’ll be difficult in the coming months to find a home that doesn’t own a copy of ’25’, it actually is tough to get an audience with the star herself. That’s why a rare interview with Tom Lamont, published yesterday in The Observer, was an eye-opening read for those wanting to hear Adele in her own words, outside of her music. Taking place in the not-at-all swanky offices of her label XL (more on that shortly), Adele covered topics that ranged from laying the ghost of ’21’’s bastard of a subject matter to rest, to trying her hardest to resist some of fame’s perks – or, as she so eloquently put it, realising that she needed “to go and do my fucking laundry.”
She still refuses to acknowledge her overwhelming popularity
Ms. Adkins, MBE – who has an Oscar, seven Grammys and an album that was so successful that Billboard recently declared it ‘The Greatest Album Of All Time’ – is still incredibly modest about her success: “But, no, see, this is the thing: you can’t make assumptions. This new one could sell 100,000… I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’m not arrogant. I’m not gullible. Some people I’ve spoken to have said, ‘You’re going to sell at least half what you sold before.’ But I don’t think anything’s a given. You don’t know.”
The power of ’21’ has helped many a person in distress
According to the article, Adele’s music was “the most-requested in karaoke bars, the most played at funerals, ‘the best for nervous flyers’, ‘the most popular to fall asleep to’. It was also said that, when a song by Adele played on the radio at Leeds General hospital, a girl awoke from a coma.” So that’s just the power of healing to add to the CV, then.
But she’s done with the emotional tormentor behind ’21’
Talking about the track ‘Send My Love (to Your New Lover)’, which could be the last time that the singer ever directly addresses the unnamed source of ’21”s heartbroken lyrical matter in song, Adele said: “This is my fuck-you song. It sounds obvious, but I think you only learn to love again when you fall in love again. I’m in that place. My love is deep and true with my man [her boyfriend, Simon Konecki], and that puts me in a position where I can finally reach out a hand to the ex. Let him know I’m over it.” Swish.
Her son was the inspiration for her coming back to music
Saying that a break from music “was the right thing” to do as “it slowed everything down,” Adele then revealed her reason for re-entering the creative fray: “My son. I felt so mega having given birth; the confidence from that, I felt unstoppable. I’m sure most women feel that… Towards the end of the ’21’ stuff, I couldn’t remember why I was doing it any more. I couldn’t answer the question: ‘Why am I halfway around the world? On my own?’ But then, after I had my son, I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s why I did it all.’ And now everything I do, in every channel of my life, is part of a legacy that I’m making for my child. For my children, if I have more. I’m not motivated by much, certainly not by money – but I’m motivated by that. I want my child to see his mum running a proper business again. Being a boss again. Hopefully smashing it again.”
Rick Rubin told her to throw away a demo copy of her new album
Super-producer and one of the few people on the planet who can tell Kanye that he needs to fundamentally change the sound of his music, Rubin flew into London to give Adele advice on the first batch of songs that she’d recorded. And, rather bluntly, he told her that they were no good. “Honestly,” says Adele, “I was waiting for someone to say it. [So] I went back to the drawing board. Worked my arse off.”
Her voice can even move inanimate objects to tears
Well, sort of. Lamont observes that: “as ‘Hello’ plays… an apple core – the one left behind in the lounge by whichever XL employee was using the room last – begins to tremble and fizz whenever her vocal climbs in pitch.” Er, any room on that CV for ‘has magical powers’?
The XL offices haven’t especially benefitted from ’21’’s estimated £40m first-year profit
Think that the west London offices of XL, Adele’s record label, have been upgraded to resemble some sort of Hank Scorpio-type headquarters? Think again. “They occupy the same tumbledown office they always did,” notes Lamont. “Body-rubbed posters of affiliated artists overlap on the walls of the lobby, the one advertising 21 gummed up behind an umbrella stand. A fruit bowl has three shrivelled pears in it. On the reception desk there’s a flimsy boxfile with ‘Accounts and expenses!!!’ felt-tipped on the front.”
She craves conversational normalcy
If you ever see Adele in your local coffee shop, chances are that she’ll be up for a chat. “When I walk into a room full of people that I don’t know, they stop talking,” she said. “And I understand that. I get it. Because I’ve done it myself in the past. It’s just… If I go up to someone and ask what they do for a living, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s not very interesting, compared to what you do.’ But it is interesting. I’m interested. It’s real life, and I want to chat about it. Let’s chat about it today and let’s chat about it again tomorrow.”
She has succumbed to some of the perks of celebrity
Ahh, the rich and famous – it’s easy to fall into the trap of enjoying privilege and being waited on when you’re successful, as even the down-to-earth singer admits: “It’s very easy to give in to being famous. Because it’s charming. It’s powerful. It draws you in. Really, it’s harder work resisting it. But after a while I just refused to accept a life that was not real…. [I was] becoming OK with having things done for you. Or – no – expecting things to be done for you. I’ve had a few moments like that. And it frightened me. I think it was something simple like running out of clean clothes. And me not having the initiative to wash my own clothes. I was annoyed that my clothes weren’t clean – so I told myself I’d better… go and do my fucking laundry.”
Although fame can be a solitary thing
Maybe being the best-selling musician of our time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “It’s lonely. It makes you lonely. I mean, I can usually break the ice. If after 10 minutes people still aren’t saying anything, I’ll crack a joke, and I’ll go in to my scared-nervous-chat mode, like I do on stage, and make everyone laugh. But then I feel as if I’m performing. And I don’t know if that’s… Like… Don’t they ever want to meet just me? But then, at the same time I think, they’re probably not even there to meet me…”
She’s changed supermarkets
But let’s not end on such a downbeat note – summing up how her estimated £50 million personal fortune might have changed her outlook on life, Adele offers this one insight: “I started shopping at Waitrose.”
They’d better stock up on the champagne in her local store, then – judging by what she’s been through to get to this point, the imminent success of ’25’ is going to need a lot of celebrating.